» Photography by : Muhammad Al Shaer
For the purpose of identifying numbers and facts from their source, ”Al-Jundi Journal” reporter Mohamed Fahed AL Halabieh met with His Excellency Staff Brigadier Fahad Al Thehli, the spokesman of UMEX and SimTEX 2020 exhibition on the closing day of the exhibition and discussed with him the reasons behind the success of these two exhibitions held under one roof, their development and the importance of our national defence industry participation and so on, in addition to other related topics:
It is noted that this exhibition has achieved great growth and success, what are the reasons behind this success, do you think?
As you know, the UMEX and SimTEX exhibition is distinguished by its focus on unmanned systems and training systems and equipment. Through my touring the exhibition, I noticed that many people lauded the organization of the exhibition, and especially the number and quality of foreign delegations. And of course, being the only exhibition of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa, its success with other UAE defence exhibitions is a source of pride for the UAE, whose leadership takes care of it and strongly supports it. There is no doubt that the visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to it is a strong indication of the importance of this exhibition and the interest of our leadership in it. Also, hosting the Mohammed bin Zayed AL Nahyan competition on robotics created a spirit of competition and a competitive atmosphere between the current generation and future generations of young people to invent new ideas that will be adopted by national or foreign companies, not to mention the organizing team and committee of the exhibition who have an important role in the success of this exhibition.
What is the extent of the growth achieved by the current edition of the exhibition compared with its previous ones?
The first edition of this exhibition was accompanied in 2015 by IDEX and NAVDEX. The organizing committee decided at the time to separate this exhibition and hold it independently due to its high turnout. UMEX was in its second edition in 2016 and the third in 2018. In its first edition, the area of UMEX was no more than 2200 square meters, the current edition area reached 25500 square meters, and the number of exhibitors was 35 companies in the first edition, while in the current edition it reached 166 companies, including 66 national companies which represent 40% of the total participation. The number of visitors in the first edition reached 3000 visitors while it is expected to exceed 20,000 visitors in this edition. (The final number of visitors has reached 26,000 visitors). The number of media representatives increased from 100 in the first edition to 500 in the current edition, while the number of delegations increased from 80 to 200. This is, of course, a clear indication of the success of UMEX and SimTEX exhibition.
Do the exhibits of this edition meet the aspirations of the UAE and its armed forces to obtain the highest level of technologies in the field of artificial intelligence, unmanned systems and training equipment?
Many people think that what is shown here is for military purposes only. But the truth is that there are a lot of civil exhibits and applications. For your information, the exhibition organizing committee will seek to increase civil exhibits in the next edition of the exhibition 2022, in which we will see in addition to applications and equipment and unmanned devices, applications and equipment for the civil side, such as civil defence, police equipment, security, port and border security, as well as the medical field apps and equipment.
How do you compare the technologies of national companies with the foreign ones presented here?
One of the purposes for which this exhibition was held is technology transfer or technology localization. While the national companies are present at the exhibition, they acquire ideas through having contacts and dialogue with foreign companies. Then they utilize those ideas innovatively to manufacture and produce new systems or equipment in the country and then present them to military and para-military operators inside and outside the UAE, and this makes us proud. In record time and after three editions of this exhibition, our companies have become – if not – at the global level, they have become a competitor to international companies in the field of artificial intelligence.
There is no doubt that the United Arab Emirates, is leading the progress in military industrialization in the Arab world, but what about the rest of the Arab countries that were absent from the scene of this very important exhibition?
Countries are not measured by their chronological age, but are measured by the ideas and technologies they present. We in the United Arab Emirates have a wise government that has paid most of its attention to occupy the first place. And this interest was passed on to the people of this country and to the younger generation. It has become our main concern to implement the theory that the Emirates should always and forever be in the first place. There is no doubt that we will face obstacles and difficulties while trying to reach our goal, but the determination of the Emirati people to reach their goal through unremitting efforts and hard work will enable them to achieve it and overcome obstacles, whatever they may be. The concern of the Emirati government and people, is to highlight the advanced level of development the UAE has achieved and its ability to compete with its counterparts in the region and worldwide. This has constituted an incentive for everyone residing on the Emirates soil to present what he has, regardless of his specialization and to spare no efforts for doing so, and this does not only apply to those working in the fields of technology we are talking about, but also to those who work in the medical, media, economic, military and civil fields who you will find moving towards one target which is placing the UAE in the first position in all fields.
Most of exhibitors consider that the volume of deals concluded in the exhibition constitutes an important part of the success of the exhibition. What is your evaluation of the deals concluded on the one hand, and on the other hand, did the deals that were concluded meet the aspirations of our armed forces in terms of the technical level that they sought?
The deals concluded in this exhibition were surprising and positive. They exceeded expectations. And they were not only in the interest of the armed forces, but also in the interest of the Abu Dhabi police and civil defence. Before deals are concluded, they are subject to extensive study by our specialized committees to determine the extent of their usefulness to our armed forces and paramilitary forces, and that the companies that have been chosen are able to meet our requirements. I would like to clarify here that ٩٤% of the total deals announced until yesterday (the penultimate day of the exhibition) were concluded with our national companies. This is clear evidence that our national companies have the ability to efficiently compete with global companies. (Trade deals were finally valued at approximately AED 749,081,718 during the three-day event.)
From your point of view, don’t you think that the strong presence of our defence industry that we are witnessing here constitutes a strong support for the continuity of these exhibitions held on our land?
Certainly, this is true. The presence of our defence companies on the homeland means that it is not only a support for the purchase of equipment, but rather a continuity of the availability of equipment, spare parts and the repair line, and therefore their presence on the territory of our country means that all the systems, equipment and spare parts they produce is within the reach of our armed forces at any time they want, which enhances our national sovereignty and independence of decision.
Would you like to send a message to our armed forces through Al-Jundi Journal on this occasion?
On the last day of the exhibition, we are pleased to congratulate our armed forces and the Ministry of Defence for their cooperation with “ADNEC” on the success of this exhibition, which was achieved due to the efforts of the committees formed to organize it. So I extend my sincere thanks to everyone who participated in organizing it. And while awaiting the next exhibition, which will certainly be at least on the same par with UMEX 2020, if not better, in terms of importance and development, I would like to emphasize that all the fruitful efforts that have been made and led to this impressive success, in one way or another, constitute a support for our national economy, and are considered a response and a true translation of the 2030 vision of our leadership that seeks to reduce dependence on oil as the sole resource of the UAE economy. Such exhibitions highlight the leading role that our country plays in our region and in the world as a whole. While I would like to thank you for having me in this meeting, I wish Al Jundi Journal all the best and every success.